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In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the but-I-play-one-on-tv dept.

The Internet 156

oztechmuse (2323576) writes "As the source of news moves increasingly away from traditional channels to the millions of people carrying mobile phones and sharing commentary, photos and video on social networks, the distinction between journalists and bloggers has become increasingly blurred. Making sense of this type of information has been as much a challenge for journalists as it has bloggers. Journalists, like bloggers, have had to learn new skills in working in this environment. Highlighting this has been the release of the Verification Handbook which attempts to educate journalists in how to process user-generated content in the form of videos or images acknowledging that much of the reporting about situations, especially emergency ones, comes from the public. The techniques outlined are accessible to anyone reporting on a story, adding to the eroding gap between bloggers and journalists."

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The problematic word is verified (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563341)

Shield laws mean that professional (read: attached to a major news organization) journalists will always be more legitimate than bloggers, as they have legal protections that bloggers can only dream about.

Re:The problematic word is verified (5, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 6 months ago | (#46563389)

Shield laws mean that professional (read: attached to a major news organization) journalists will always be more legitimate than bloggers, as they have legal protections that bloggers can only dream about.

Not according to the 9th Circuit Court [theatlantic.com] . Bloggers are journalists, according to that ruling.

Re:The problematic word is verified (5, Informative)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 6 months ago | (#46563557)

That's a new direction which, fortunately, courts are shifting towards -- that there are no meaningful distinctions between journalists AKA "The Press", in First Amendment terms, and everybody else merely exercising First Amendment free speech.

Some say there should be no distinction at all w.r.t. speech, which I agree with. You know Congress would try to restrict speech by restricting presses under some trumped-up rationale. That's why that clause is there, not to grant a larger free speech pass to the press.

Re:The problematic word is verified (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564041)

And there shouldn't be as most 'professional' journalists just regurgitate press releases these days

Re:The problematic word is verified (4, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 6 months ago | (#46563759)

The problematic word really IS "verified". No journalist should ever have to be "verified". Want to be a member of the press? Just print a card with the word "PRESS" in bold letters. Did Thomas Paine carry a press card? Was Ben Frankiin "verified"? Screw any member or agency of gubbermint that wants to "verify" a journalist!

Re:The problematic word is verified (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564107)

"Verified" is not problematic but it is the whole basis of journalism and trustworthiness etc. How about RTFS? The Verification Handbook and thus also the article refers to verifying (user generated) content. That is something any journalist and a blogger should do and does not refer to verifying someone's press credentials or whatnot.

I think the GPs subject line wasn't very well-thought-out. That being said, I pretty much agree with what both of you are saying

Re:The problematic word is verified (5, Interesting)

nbauman (624611) | about 6 months ago | (#46565003)

I write about medicine. I read the journals and go to the conferences.

I was passing by New York City Hall (during the Giuliani Administration) and I saw a demonstration by AIDS activists, something that I had been covering. I always like to talk to the real people involved, so I tried to get over to the demonstration.

Giuliani put a locked gate around City Hall. I had to stop by a guard post. I told the guard what I was doing, and he told me I needed press identification. I told him that I should be able to go to the demonstration simply as a member of the general public. But he was an asshole on a power trip and insisted that I needed a press ID. Finally I saw somebody else walk through without press ID, so I just walked through myself.

I later called up City Hall to complain about the guard, and went through a long series of written complaints to supervisors who were perpetually on vacation or had been moved to a different job. Finally the City Hall guards let some politician's friend with a gun into City Hall without screening, and he shot and killed a City Council member. It was no longer a good time to press on with a complaint like that.

I also called the City Hall press office and asked them what the requirements were for a press card. They were actually reasonable as written. The original purpose of a press card is to let you cross police lines during a fire or other emergency, or big events or demonstrations, and they gave press cards to reporters who regularly covered them for news media. Counter-cultural publications like the Village Voice and WBAI-FM got press cards. Less formally, they let the cops know when the reporters were watching so they didn't beat up demonstrators with cameras around. With time, press passes turned into a prestige item that publishers and other freeloaders used to try to get out of speeding tickets, get free admission to the circus, cage free meals at restaurants, etc. You had to fill out a form and apply, documenting that you actually do cover events where a press card is useful. I thought that it might actually make a good story, for the National Writers Union newsletter or someplace, "How to get a police press card."

I decided that I don't need your fucking press card. I can find out enough just by exercising the rights I have as an ordinary citizen, and exercising my willingness to go to jail if that's what it takes, to get my readers the information that they want and have a right to know.

One of the things that always amused me was the outrage of the press (like the New York Times) when the cops beat up their reporters during a demonstration (at the Chicago 1968 Democratic Convention, for example). Why weren't you doing your job of reporting the truth when we were getting beaten up by the cops, in front of your own eyes?

So blogger, shmogger. You don't need a press pass to write journalism. All you need are your rights under the Constitution and the willingness to get beaten up and go to jail.

Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (4, Insightful)

Stolpskott (2422670) | about 6 months ago | (#46563379)

Journalists (as the world's professional content creators) versus Bloggers (the world's amateur - sometimes very much so - content creators) are similar in the same way that the guy hacking together application code in his bedroom in his spare time is the same as the salaried analyst programmer employed full time to do that.

They both produce content, and the amateur may produce content which would be considered of an acceptable standard by the professional. But the average amateur produces content which is of a much lower standard than the average professional (no, I have no specific citation to prove that, other than my own experience of working with both types on projects).

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (2)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 6 months ago | (#46563505)

It's more rule than exception that the quality of the professional is on the same level of the amateur. Both in "journalism" and "software development".

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563711)

You know some terrible professionals then

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (4, Interesting)

Cenan (1892902) | about 6 months ago | (#46563761)

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (4, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#46563579)

None of that precludes equal protection under the law. Everybody has the same rights as a journalist, or any other person. As such, we all have the right not to answer to any authority. Unfortunately the average person doesn't have the heavy weaponry needed to protect those rights.

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (3, Interesting)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 6 months ago | (#46563703)

I agree with your headline but not with your post. The answer is no, bloggers and journalists are not equal, because blogs are the source of most high-quality journalism. Especially for science and politics, "professional" journalists in the Western world produce lamentably bad stories. The bloggers routinely have to fact-check and provide appropriate context for stories that a journalist could have corrected with five minutes on Ask Jeeves.

It is true that there are a small number of very good pro journalists, and it might be true that the 'average' blog post is lower quality than the 'average' newspaper article, but neither of those is the right measure of quality.

The right question to ask is, what is the source of MOST of the HIGH QUALITY news, and the answer to that is blogs. If you ignore all the low-quality stuff from all sources, and focus on the high quality stuff from all sources, then among that high-quality set, most of that will be from blogs.

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (2)

gnick (1211984) | about 6 months ago | (#46563985)

The right question to ask is, what is the source of MOST of the HIGH QUALITY news, and the answer to that is blogs.

I'd say a better question is what is the average level of quality produced. CNN, Fox, BBC, etc. may have their own slant on things, but in general they get most of the facts right. Granted, CNN may post "Child Run Down by Drunk Driver," while Fox reports "Juvenile Vandalizes Lawyer's Car with Fresh Human Blood," describing the same story. But, you generally don't have to slog through a million pages of "My Cat Did the CUTEST THING!!!" or "Aliens Spotted Eating at Denny's" to get there. If the major sources have 90% of the worth-while stories and are 90% accurate, that still makes them better places to turn than finding 95% of the worth-while stories from sources that are 99% garbage.

A million monkeys at a million typewriters will eventually generate the best novel ever written, but I'd prefer to stick to respected authors who, even they all fall short of perfection, are generally more interesting than the monkeys' content.

None of what you say is true (2, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46564089)

I'd say a better question is what is the average level of quality produced.

Even using that metric, your conclusion is flawed.

CNN may post "Child Run Down by Drunk Driver,"

Or that a plane was swallowed by a black hole...

you generally don't have to slog through a million pages of "My Cat Did the CUTEST THING!!!"

Hint: BuzzFeed is not a blog, and most blogs do not have that problem. They have some advertising on the side but so do most commercial news sites (CNN does on the home page).

The other major problem has been that many commercial news sources have been count countless times now posting inaccurate stories. Bloggers at this point, overall, are MUCH more careful with accuracy and careful presentation of facts. Commercial news sources are much more pressured by a deadline to get ANYTHING out.

Re:None of what you say is true (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 6 months ago | (#46565037)

CNN may post "Child Run Down by Drunk Driver,"

Or that a plane was swallowed by a black hole...

What actually happened

Near the end of CNN's special primetime report on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Wednesday, anchor Don Lemon read a pair of tweets he received from viewers suggesting the plane's disappearance could be the result of a "black hole," Bermuda Triangle or an occurence akin to the television series "Lost."

And, it wouldn't surprise me if those tweeters got the suggestion from a blog. I say this because one of my cow-irker repeatedly bombards the rest of us with blogs claiming that the plane was hijacked by the U.S. government to kidnap Chinese scientists, that the plane was then flown to Diego Garcia, and that everyone who was not considered useful is now a slave working in the kitchens of Diego Garcia.

Journalists and bloggers are not the same, but journalists are slowly sinking to the level of bloggers because being a journalist doesn't really pay anymore.

That makes it worse (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46565185)

The fact that CNN would just pass along crazy suggestions from Twitter makes me LESS impressed with them, not more.

Bloggers at least have a self-imposed filter for reasonableness.

journalists are slowly sinking to the level of bloggers because being a journalist doesn't really pay anymore.

There's nothing slow about it, and they have already way shot past the level of blogger. I would believe most bloggers over most mainstream journalists today, because I know that the journalists are, as I said, under pressure to run a story as soon as possible, and often play fast and loose with facts in a way bloggers cannot and still maintain readers.

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (2)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 6 months ago | (#46563773)

Yes, but too bad that "Blog" merely describes the media something is published while "Journalism" describes a field of work.

These are not mutually exclusive.

You might find Journalism in print medie, radio, TV and blogs, and at the same time might find professional content and cat photos in Blogs.

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (3, Interesting)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 6 months ago | (#46564035)

What you said. A "journalist" is someone with a degree in communications, journalism (regardless of print or broadcast). Anyone can provide information and term it "news."

Just because I can perform CPR doesn't make me a doctor.

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46564447)

*Just because I can perform CPR doesn't make me a doctor.*

no, but it makes you capable of performing cpr and thus capable of giving some first response aid...

but a degree is not what makes a journalist... thats fucking union guild mentality right there. besides, journalist is just someone who rewrites and analyzes other peoples reports and anyone can be a reporter just as anyone can be a journalist..

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46564045)

And like coders, many amateurs are so skilled that they become professionals, and many professionals retire or lose their jobs to become amateurs. It's a continuum, where your ability to move between the groups (be hired or fired) depends largely on merit, but also on a lot of other factors

Slickly produced doesn't mean it's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564049)

WMDs in Iraq?

"Fake but accurate" forgeries about Bush II's National Guard service?

Tell me again about the "standards" professional "journalists" have.

Re:Slickly produced doesn't mean it's right (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46564971)

I was about to disagree with him as well, because the quality of the average journalist is actually quite low, and there are a lot of bloggers who do better.

Unfortunately for every lousy journalist, there is a blogger who is even worse, telling you how to avoid rabies with homeopathic self-brain lobotomy or something. Seriously, the quality level of bloggers can get really bad [timecube.com] .

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564151)

Are they equal? I would argue yes. Why? Because as you stated, they're content creators and nothing more.

Professional Journalists are such, because their style of reporting, whether fact or opinion, has been an accepted layout backed by a name recognized publisher. Want proof? Point me to a professional journalist who doesn't work for ANY news outlet. And if you argue freelance journalist, how are they not just a paid blogger then? They've been doing it longer, and do more research and in depth analysis? A blogger isn't capable of either? When it comes down to it, it might be the manner in which the 'professional journalist' poses questions and answers, rather than the substantive direction that a story they're reporting on flows. Or, it's that they are taking the story in certain directions that gives them the title of professional journalists. It's a self-grandizing position, because you have name recognition beyond their own.

Bloggers? They range from outright insanity, to the 100% spot on for a story and what I'd expect EVERY major news outlet to aspire to. Want an example? How about this: a story I read recently in both the BBC and WSJ about an ongoing high profile murder, with other charges including kidnapping and rape. Yet, the first sentence of the entire story left out who did what to whom. It was phrased as, and I'm nearly paraphrasing, 'a recent arrest took place for the kidnapping, murder and rape over the weekend'. That's the most horribly framed sentence concerning facts you can come up with! And it was similar, if not the same, across both professional outlets. Are you telling me that those ARE professional journalists? They would certainly seem to be. The rest of the article did finally give some names, dates, and locations, FACTS and some framing, but overall the article was extremely poorly written for something rather simple to layout and report on.

The simple fact is the line is blurred in the information age, especially when Corporate interests are involved. You might say facts are facts, but it seems even the most respected news outlets that society has to offer, can produce absolute garbage. Something you seem to note bloggers are enitrely restricted to. Perhaps you're reading fringe blogs, and wholly subscribed to the idea the the NYT is a bastion of modern journalism, but news is news. A competent and impartial reader should be able to pick up where the bullshit lies, regardless of whose page it's displayed on. Blogspot, or Reuters, bullshit is bullshit, and you seem to have trouble distinguishing the smell.

Re:Betteridge's Law in effect... (Answer = No) (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 months ago | (#46564771)

Journalists (as the world's professional content creators) versus Bloggers (the world's amateur - sometimes very much so - content creators) are similar in the same way that the guy hacking together application code in his bedroom in his spare time is the same as the salaried analyst programmer employed full time to do that.

They both produce content, and the amateur may produce content which would be considered of an acceptable standard by the professional. But the average amateur produces content which is of a much lower standard than the average professional (no, I have no specific citation to prove that, other than my own experience of working with both types on projects).

How about we redefine it as journalists create original content by reporting on the news event, bloggers merely report content?

After all, a journalist would be the one who wrote the news article, while various bloggers are the ones who republish summaries and links to the original article.

If the content's merely just a link with some added summary, there's very little value added.

Yes, it also means most of what you read in traditional newspapers are "bloggers" since they just republish original articles from reuters, AP, AFP, etc (who generated the original content and are, in general, journalists).

Seems to be somewhat clearer. in the end, since most bloggers do not create original content, just merely repost it for their audience (see Slashdot).

Original content like editorials and such aren't done by journalists, but writers, pundits, etc. But not journalists as they aren't reporting on a news event, but commenting on it.

Also means when you're just reporting about some keynote speech, you're just blogging about it.

Groklaw (3, Informative)

Quila (201335) | about 6 months ago | (#46565079)

Groklaw had the best journalistic coverage in the world of the SCO v. IBM case, but it's "just" a blog. There's no fine line where a blog stops being "what I feel" and reports hard news. Take MSNBC, it's 85% commentary, yet still considered news, and their standards, such as using facts and verifying things, aren't that high.

All people are equal (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#46563387)

And all people should demand freedom of speech, regardless of their profession, or lack thereof.

please mod up parent (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 6 months ago | (#46564415)

the first amendment is a right, not a privilege.

Unequal, but also unquantifiable (2)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | about 6 months ago | (#46563407)

Rather than asking whether they are equal, we should instead think in terms of how can we verify what they're worth? Is a source quantifiable? If not, it makes little sense to consider whether one type of source is equal to another. Just being able to identify what type of source a source is may be difficult or impossible.

Re:Unequal, but also unquantifiable (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 6 months ago | (#46563627)

we should instead think in terms of how can we verify what they're worth?

Agreed. I wrote this [billmcgonigle.com] five years ago and mostly still agree with it:

Whenever I've been interviewed for a newspaper, words and facts have been twisted and/or just gotten wrong. Whenever I read a popular press article in an area where I have in-depth knowledge, it's wrong, at least in the details.

So, I just assume that's true all the time and go to specialists for real news reporting. I haven't checked, but I'd assume a place like Jane's would have a good article on this GPS thing.

How about this business model: be a journalist who's a bona-fide expert on GPS. Write completely accurate, insightful, and helpful news articles on GPS happenings. Charge alot for them.

The last part is the trick of course. But how many GPS journalists does the world need? No more than a handful. With the Internet it should be possible to greatly reduce the number of generalist journalists and start making 'newspapers' much better with experts. There's probably too much inertia at established papers but a disruptive model seems possible.

Re:Unequal, but also unquantifiable (3, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 6 months ago | (#46563945)

That just sets up a system where freedom can be revoked for anyone deemed to not have something worthwhile to say or who doesn't meet arbitrary professional standards. Everybody's "equal" but some are more equal than others isn't what the constitution was created for.

Re:Unequal, but also unquantifiable (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about 6 months ago | (#46564983)

Rather than asking whether they are equal, we should instead think in terms of how can we verify what they're worth? Is a source quantifiable?

Before we can verify, or evaluate or quantify, the subject matter must first be published. That right (to publish) is absolute, no matter who you are. Everybody also has the right to verify, and therefore the right to publish is necessary.

No gap erosion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563411)

Journals and blogs are simply means of delivering a message. Journalists and bloggers are distinct in how much they allow their personal views affect their message. Whoever writes a well-researched article, provides multiple points of view, concise arguments and doesn't stray from the virtues of reason is a journalist. A blogger can be anyone with an easily readable writing style, who provides the readers with quips, thoughts, personal observations, anecdotes, opinions and beliefs.

In other words, no matter it it's NYT or a wordpress blog, journalists are the people following journalistic ethics and standards. The rest are bloggers.

Re: No gap erosion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563487)

More like... most bloggers tell you about things they found interesting and things they are passionate about. Most journalists tell you what they are paid to tell you and then they try to make it look like news by calling it "special message" or "advertorial" or "infotainment".

Re:No gap erosion (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 6 months ago | (#46563805)

A blogger can be anyone with an easily readable writing style, who provides the readers with quips, thoughts, personal observations, anecdotes, opinions and beliefs.

But that holds true also for the journalistic formats called "editorial" or "column".

Question Answered (2, Funny)

Wingsy (761354) | about 6 months ago | (#46563423)

To answer the question, yes, they are equal. They are both pretty much worthless.


Kinda like this comment.

Journalistic integrity in short supply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563433)

All things being equal in the present day. They are way closer to equal[utility] than they should be.

Both tend to paint opinion as fact and call it news. Bloggers usually further their own agenda, while "news" orgs are forwarding someone else's[Dem/Rep/ misc proxy for monied interests running counter to your own].

It all comes down to which of your sources has interests most aligned with your own. That is much easier to guest-i-mate with non-consolidated and smaller sources. It's much easier to buy a handful of outlets, than it is to coerce and compromise random bloggers.[most of the time]

Re:Journalistic integrity in short supply (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 6 months ago | (#46564435)

I fully agree w/ this. I trust bloggers a lot more than 'journalists' these days. Using the above criteria

Reputation (1)

fred911 (83970) | about 6 months ago | (#46563455)

The utility of news and is based on reputation. It does not matter any longer if reputation is based on the publisher or the author. Reputation can be easily researched by readers.

Facts and Accuracy (1)

bigpat (158134) | about 6 months ago | (#46563601)

Yes, but it shouldn't be. The utility of a news story should be in the verifiable information that is conveyed in the story. "Reputation" can be of some use, but it is far too easy to buy a reputation or flim flam your way into an undeserved good reputation. What might be useful in today's world is to have a linked list of facts and their sources associated with the article. Like what is required in a scholarly article, but with citations that do not interrupt the flow of the story.

Re:Facts and Accuracy (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#46564905)

While verifiable facts are important, I generally don't want to read over all the sources and do the verification of all the content myself. And that is where reputation comes in. If a journalist, blogger, or news organization has a good reputation, I can be somewhat confident that I don't have to verify the story that I'm reading, or at least not verify it so thoroughly.

Re:Facts and Accuracy (1)

bigpat (158134) | about 6 months ago | (#46565187)

Sure not too many people would be fact checking a news story, but if a writer provided sources then you or someone else could verify the information from time to time. It is a mistake to trust a news source just because you are familiar with the brand or the journalist.

Trust, but verified.

Even the best journalists get sloppy from time to time, brands get bought and sold and become a tool for some other agenda. The best written stories really do provide enough detail about where they are getting their information that someone could go and check directly with the source. The worst news stories are the ones that repeatedly cite "unnamed sources". Many a time I have read a news story and come to a completely different conclusion than the one presented because even if there is a bias in a news story when a reporter reports the facts and provides enough detail then people can draw their own conclusions.

Maybe it is old age and observation (2)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 6 months ago | (#46563471)

Seems to me that myths were presented successfully as facts back when dead-tree, radio, and television ruled the roost. Back then, you could scream about falsehoods in newspapers until you turned blue and your word only carried about as far as your voice. Today one can do a good Fisking of most of those articles and get some traction in a wider circle. The biggest problem is the successful rent-seeking efforts of larger, traditional media organizations wooing politicians into granting them special protections that are not afforded to anybody else performing the same tasks as them.

Looking for a marketplace... (1)

gwstuff (2067112) | about 6 months ago | (#46563479)

It seems that the missing link between blogging and conventional journalism could be a marketplace that enables bloggers to publish content in the mainstream media. Major media sites commonly link to blogs, and some bloggers do op-eds from time to time, but this cross-pollination seems to be the exception, not the rule. A Google Play-like marketplace in which bloggers sell their written pieces (or make them available for free), and from which news service purchases such pieces would eliminate the distinction between 'freelance journalist' and 'blogger.'

On an unrelated note, the article (outside of the title) doesn't waste much time comparing blogging and conventional journalism.

Depends on How Hard Journalists Shill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563491)

It seems that a significant fraction of today's political journalists view their job as shilling for liberal political causes [powerlineblog.com] , to the point they unapologetically get verifiable facts wrong or put off reporting on "inconvenient" stories until after elections.

At least bloggers are generally honest enough to state their political biases up front.

Slashdot at its finest (2, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#46563497)

This story brought to you by Slashdot, which barely attempts to editing.

Re:Slashdot at its finest (3, Funny)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 6 months ago | (#46563685)

which barely attempts to editing.

"Attempts to editing"??

Pot, meet Kettle....

"Education" Me Then! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563499)

Just like a journalist...

Sadly (0)

azav (469988) | about 6 months ago | (#46563507)

When Faux News Opinion counts as "News", yes.

Liberals are still butthurt... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563595)

...over other people having free speech and disrupting their narratives...

Re:Liberals are still butthurt... (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 months ago | (#46563669)

No. People object to the idea that everything is a "narrative".

Journalism is no longer about facts. It's just another form of fiction. This is what the fixation over "narrative" has done to journalism. Meanwhile, so-called professionals still attempt to pretend that they are objective.

The old school party rags were at least honest about their bias.

Re:Sadly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563661)

Have you watch CNN and NBC lately? I haven't noticed it as much on ABC and CBS, but CNN and MS/NBC are right up there with Fox in terms of sacrificing journalistic integrity in the pursuit of a sensationalist story or a thinly veiled partisan political motivation.

False Dichotomy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563517)

Bloggers and Journalists are not mutually exclusive labels. Some bloggers perform journalism, or if you'd prefer, some journalists blog.

"Journalism is a method of inquiry and literary style that aims to provide a service to the public by the dissemination and analysis of news and other information." [Wikipedia]

Journalism is the action (and a journalist one who performs the action), while a blog is a medium (and a blogger one who posts in that medium). Not all bloggers are journalists, not all journalists are bloggers. It's like asking 'are people on TV and Journalists equal?'

Professionals ? (3, Interesting)

DickBreath (207180) | about 6 months ago | (#46563523)

We've all seen the professionals get it wrong. Sometimes very wrong.

Furthermore, dedicated ammatuers who focus on a particular subject often have quicker and better coverage of news on that topic. Professional mass media news often over simplifies news, sometimes to the point of almost losing the story.

Then we've all seen the bias of professional news organizations. Freedom of the press is for whoever owns one. Look at how all mainstream mass media was completely silent about SOPA until the Internet forced the issue into the public eye. Then, the professional journalists all told whatever story their owners wanted us to hear.

I'm not saying that professional journalism is all bad. It's just not all good either. And the same for ammatuers. It is up to you to decide what news sources you trust. Some professionals have, and should rightfully so, not be given any trust.

We now have news channels that are more about info-tainment and the most fantastical splashy graphics than they are about real news. Closing down bureaus and getting rid of real investigative reporters because it is cheaper to just do talking heads? Then we also have professional news sources whose entire purpose is to promote a particular ideology. So maybe, increasingly, the only difference between the ammatuers and professionals is how big a budget they have? Now TV news anchors have to be fashion models. But in the past they had to be journalists who eventually earned the position of anchor. They weren't models, they just had to look okay.

So I find arguments about the goodness of professional news over news on the internet to be less than completely convincing.

Nice typo (2)

Enigma2175 (179646) | about 6 months ago | (#46563531)

which attempts to education journalists in how to process

We should attempts to education the editors in how to process a story!

Re:Nice typo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563875)

If the real problem is, "what content can we trust to have been written by competent, intelligent individuals likely to have good information to present", then the absence or presence of phrases like "attempts to education journalists" may be the best guidepost we will ever realistically have.

It's easy to distinguish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563543)

Anyone that recites the party line, any party line, isn't a journalist. Anyone who tries to provide accurate information, or attempts to make people consider things from a different point of view is a journalist.

Since the cost of publication has dropped to almost nothing, the quality of information or writing is no longer relevant.

If I write a blog about how my neighbors cat chased my son into the garage the other day, you may not care. But that doesn't make it any less news. If I write it really badly, it still doesn't make it any less news.

If on the other hand, I just service as a mouth piece for some set of beliefs or another, then it's a press release, not journalism.

Journalists are a wing of the Democratic Party (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563545)

Would you trust, Say, Fox News to report honestly on Exxon if high-ranking Fox News people had relatives working in Exxon's boardroom?

Then why trust reporting when their relatives and spouses work as advisers for the White House [breitbart.com] ?

Remember, JournoList had more than 400 members who were working to give mainstream news coverage a left-wing slant.

What's changed though? (2)

Godai (104143) | about 6 months ago | (#46563555)

I've often thought about what differentiates a blogger from a journalist. To suggest that there is no difference is demeaning to journalists -- and yes, I know there are lots of those are hardly worthy of the name, but to just flatly equate the two is unjust to the professional, fact-checking variety that is supposed to be the standard.

Before the rise of the internet, there was no platform for any old person to put their opinion in print (digital or otherwise) and reach a broad audience. Sure, you could print up pamphlets and hand them out on street corners, but wide distribution was gated by publishers. We've removed a lot of middlemen between content producers and content consumers, and a lot of that is probably good. But one of the benefits (and problems in some cases) was that some of those middlemen provided filtering. It's great that we no longer have that filtering in one aspect; it's allowed a lot of things that the 'powers that be' judged uninteresting and turned out not to be so. But it also means that a lot of pure noise that was filtered out is now crowding out the signal in some cases.

Part of the problem journalism faces is that in order to compete on speed, they're skipping steps. There was a time when a juicy story was held back while they triple-checked it. That happens less & less because time-to-print (or broadcast, etc.) has become the defining metric. When you're competing with someone who doesn't check anything they put up, you start to look pretty follow-the-leaders when you post after fact-checking.

So while some of this is definitely a problem for journalists, namely how to stay relevant in a world of instant publication, a lot of this is our fault too. If we were willing to wait a bit, preferring immediately accuracy instead of immediate attention grabbing, it would give those who want to do things right the breathing room to verify. So long as we're all grabbing click bait the second its available, we're screaming loud and clear to the conglomerates that run our news media that its far more important to be first than accurate.

Re:What's changed though? (1)

Cenan (1892902) | about 6 months ago | (#46563895)

When you're competing with someone who doesn't check anything they put up, you start to look pretty follow-the-leaders when you post after fact-checking

So maybe they're doing it wrong? Not every article has to be breaking to be worthy. You don't always have to be first. Remember, news aren't made by journalists, it's covered by them, and newsworthy stuff happens regardless of whether anyone covers it. The obsession with being first is putting the cart before the horse. Do proper fact-checking and be a better source of news, it's that simple. Oh, and dropping the obvious party affiliations would go a long way too.

Great points! (2)

King_TJ (85913) | about 6 months ago | (#46564953)

I think you're absolutely right about the trend in news shifting towards immediacy vs. verification of content. Maybe professional journalism has a marketing problem, in that regard? I think the general public, especially in the "Internet age" where everything seems to be available at the click of a mouse, might need reminders of the value of fact-checked, accurate news reporting?

Really, there's no true need to be first, if doing so means only having part of the story, or an inaccurate one. The *perceived* need to do so only comes from the content consuming public who is trained to make the assumption that whatever news they get is already properly verified as accurate. There's a perception out there that, "If it comes from a name-brand news source, it's good content. So whichever of those professional source gives it to me first, consistently, must be the best at doing it."

I don't think most of us are anxious to see another negative ad campaign attacking the competition for doing things wrong .... but emphasis on a news team going the extra mile every time to ensure you get complete and verified news reporting, "even if it takes us a little longer" might help change peoples' priorities?

Journalists usually have a hidden agenda... (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 6 months ago | (#46563613)

...for evidence of this, just look at how the recent Crimea issue has been handled.

No one raised a finger when Kosovo was carving itself out of Yugoslavia. No body is asking the tough questions. No body from the big media houses sees the USA's double standards...

Re:Journalists usually have a hidden agenda... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564063)

I wouldn't say that they necessarily have a hidden agenda, or at least not necessarily one that impacts the truth of their reporting.
What the Crimea incident showed me was that traditional media doesn't have reliable sources. They seldom have their own people in place but relies on sources that they can't verify.
Often they only go with the official press release, sometimes they are able to contact someone from their own nation that is visiting the area and sometimes they don't give a fuck and let a person in Cairo report about Iraq as if they had more insight than someone Bristol.
It was also pretty obvious that you can't start to look for random bloggers on internet for information about Crimea, not after the Russian propaganda train started anyway.

The source I found most reliable was Ukrainians that I know about from before the Crimea incident. Gamers that I knew had no or little interest in politics before Russia walked in, people that I knew from beforehand that they didn't have an agenda.
That is an advantage that old media never will have, the ability to bring out a source that *I* know isn't part of the propaganda war.

Another thing that became obvious to me when Crimea happened was how cheap propaganda really is. A single guy can write a forum post and post it on loads of forums, even the smaller non-political ones can be covered in a minute. With the help of classical propaganda outlets like newspapers there is a steady influx of photoshopped images and photos with false context that someone not working full time as a forum poster have a hard time arguing against.
This makes it necessary to always look at the post history to see if someone suddenly started posting propaganda or if they have been active and contributed to the forum in other topics.

Re:Journalists usually have a hidden agenda... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 6 months ago | (#46564093)

No one raised a finger when Kosovo was carving itself out of Yugoslavia.

And there's your difference. Kosovo carved *itself* out of Yugoslavia. *Russia* carved the Crimea out of Ukraine.

Re:Journalists usually have a hidden agenda... (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 6 months ago | (#46564147)

And there's your difference. Kosovo carved *itself* out of Yugoslavia. *Russia* carved the Crimea out of Ukraine.

No! You lie! The Crimean people [democratically] voted to join Russia.
Want a link? Here you go. [bbc.com]

Re:Journalists usually have a hidden agenda... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 6 months ago | (#46564635)

Once they were occupied by Russian troops, you better believe they'd vote to join Russia. I'd vote to join Russia too if I had a Russian soldier standing next to me. Kosovo, of course, wasn't occupied by any foreign troops.

Bloggers beat journalists, because mainstream "jou (2)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 6 months ago | (#46563623)

It's not that bloggers are great, but what passes for journalism in the USA is little more than a bad joke. Fact checking? Broad knowledge of the world? Deep thought? When was the last time you saw any of that from a "professional" mainstream media journalist? Even the Economist has become hopelessly myopic and superficial.

That's not the only reason. Intellectually, most of the journalism majors I met in college were fighting it out with education majors for last place. Try and explain something as complex as resource depletion or peak oil, and their heads looked like they'd explode.

Consequently I find that I read bloggers with great enthusiasm (e.g. nakedcapitalism.com), while simply rolling my eyes at the "news" on MSNBC, Fox or NPR.

Re:Bloggers beat journalists, because mainstream " (1)

mmell (832646) | about 6 months ago | (#46563981)

So what you're saying is . . . those news organs (MSNBC, Fox, NPR) don't share your world view?

Re:Bloggers beat journalists, because mainstream " (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564383)

those news organs (MSNBC, Fox, NPR) don't share your world view

I happen to agree with 2 of the three (I will leave it as an exercise to the reader which 2). However, I watch/listen to none of them. They all pander to the worst sort of human emotion, fear.

For the simple fact that 'news' is rarely 'news'. It is outrage. Look no further than the summary of this discussion. It is a question. A leading question at that. It is meant to sell you outrage. In this case to draw out the 'freedom of speech' guys, and the 'quality of journalist' guys to argue. If you think you are getting any sort of news out of these stations conduct this simple experiment. It only takes about a week and 2-3 hours of doing what you do already 'watch the news'. Count the commercials and the length. Then extrapolate what they are really selling. Why they have leading headlines. You are not the consumer you are the product for the people paying the bills. Outrage sells and brings eyeballs.

Want to see something even cooler? Go on a road trip. Listen to NPR the whole way. You will notice something. All the stations sell the news as their own. Even the same story read word for word. Most 'news' is filler from AP/Reuters read in such a way to make you think they are actually doing something and adding value. NPR does an extra twist by reading stuff from BBC sometimes.

Re:Bloggers beat journalists, because mainstream " (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46565015)

You see nakedcapitalism.com as better than NPR? Is that serious?

Freedom of "The Press" (3, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46563631)

A lot of people (most people, actually) tend to believe that the usage of the term in the First Amendment implies the "fourth estate," a characterization of the 'professional' journalistic media; however, according to etymonline.com, [etymonline.com] the term "the press" was not used in reference to professional journalistic endeavors (i.e., the 'fourth estate') until the mid-1820's, long after the Constitution was written and ratified. Prior to that, the term "press" in literary reference was commonly accepted to mean the printing press.

Thus, it stands to reason that the freedom our founding fathers were protecting in the First Amendment is not the freedom of the fourth estate, but rather the freedom of the common man to disseminate information freely, be it in blog, newspaper, or other format.

Error at beginning of first sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563659)

Amongst the many challenges facing the field of journalism in the move from print to digital...

Hold it right there. The whole issue here has jack shit to do with blogging (which is what these sort of people mean by "digital").

All the same blurriness equally applies to the older mediums, such as Fox News "reporting" on pretty much any topic, or Newsweek magazine writing, as exhibited by their didn't-even-try approach about Bitcoin. Bullshit is everywhere, and it's not even a recent phenomenon (people were bitching about this literally a century ago).

The only "new challenge" that is relevant here, has to do with antiquated (yet also fairly recent) "shield laws" which artificially try to apply rights to some people and not others, in order to chill free speech. This is all about government and its defiance of society's reality, and doesn't really have anything to do with journalism.

Yes, they are (2)

DaMattster (977781) | about 6 months ago | (#46563663)

These days journalism is a lot of opinion and drama designed to lure readers or television viewers. Very often the stories lack fact checking and verification and are subject to quite a bit of hyperbole. Good, objective journalism has died with a large thank you to Rupert Murdoch who promoted the news as a business versus a true information source.

Re:Yes, they are (1)

BBF_BBF (812493) | about 6 months ago | (#46564429)

I agree.

Many "Journalists" no longer fact check their stories before they are published. IMHO that makes them no different than a blogger. At least with a blogger, it's implied that whatever they post is their opinion, with journalists, it's implied that they're supposed to be impartial.

However, Journalists have *never* been 100% objective, at a minimum there has always been some self-censorship and tacit agreements with governments, etc. (For example, FDR was never shown in press pictures in his wheelchair. And domestic press has always avoided printing pictures of "our" mortally wounded soldiers.) Journalists can "report only the facts" and still present a skewed picture by simply not reporting key facts and emphasizing others, or simply *not* publishing certain stories so nobody is aware of certain important issues.

Re:Yes, they are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564459)

These days journalism is a lot of opinion and drama designed to lure readers or television viewers. Very often the stories lack fact checking and verification and are subject to quite a bit of hyperbole. Good, objective journalism has died with a large thank you to Rupert Murdoch who promoted the news as a business versus a true information source.

William Randolph Hearst is climbing out of his grave to elbow past Rupert Murdoch for first place on your list.

ha? (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 6 months ago | (#46563683)

In what way are they different anywhere?

The first amendment makes more sense... (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 6 months ago | (#46563693)

When you understand that the freedom of the press has almost nothing to do with the rights of journalists/reporters. It is referring to the printing press, not "The Press" or "The Media." It protects the right of reporters and bloggers to publish their free speech.

'equal' vs. deception? motive = results (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563713)

'verified' is the pitch? creation tends to move in a positive direction constantly whereas MANic WMD on credit viagranism is always on count(us)down mode with deceptive information etc to generate fear & disable any notion of spiritual sandboxing...

Verification... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46563753)

When do journalist verify fact anymore?

Short answer: Yes (2)

jtwiegand (3533989) | about 6 months ago | (#46563791)

At least in America, "the press" means "the printing press" and by extension any technology which accomplishes the same purpose as the printing press, i.e. the dissemination of information. Blogs would certainly fall into this category. You can either believe me or read this very convincing paper by Eugene Volokh: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/pa... [ssrn.com] So sorry, "media," you aren't "the press." The protection is for the medium, not a particular type of messenger.

Can't be too careful (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | about 6 months ago | (#46563853)

Censor them all, and let the NSA sort them out.

No. (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 6 months ago | (#46563955)

Not all writers are journalists.

Those we know as journalists have editors, one-time or current peers, more experienced, who can tell them when they're running afoul of what good journalism is.

Those we know as bloggers have nothing more than their own judgement to guide them, which is why journalists grew editors.

Perhaps someday the two will merge, hopefully by bloggers stepping up, and not by journalists stepping down.

Kinda like in science, where you don't get to just throw up any old idea and call it science. You need to test it against replicable observations.

The 9th circuit was mostly making sure people could get press passes and there would not be an army of bloggers filing federal lawsuits.

Case in point? A million ideas about how flight 370 went down. Two weeks of egalitarian, drive-by speculation, and in the end, only one verifiable answer.

Yes but, (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 6 months ago | (#46563961)

Retarded tweets are the most supreme of all.

Free Speech For All Citizens (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | about 6 months ago | (#46564207)

Unfortunately, very often facts are never verified, and dogma-truths (religionpolitics) are very often regurgitated by fools, bigots, and frauds.

I wish journalist, clergy, and politicians could be held to a higher standard, but as broadcast/print news, US, EU, RU, CN politicians, and all religions globally prove there is no higher calling than bullsh_t power.

IOW: Holding Citizens/bloggers to any standard for speech/information would be wrong and draconian. Holding journalist, scientist, businesses, clergy, politicians and their institutions/businesses to any standard of facts, truth, ethics would help US, EU, and Humanity.

Journalists = partisan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564237)

Journalists, because they're being paid, are more likely to be pushing an agenda - the agenda of who is paying them.

Journalists, being professionals, and having their work copy-edited, are more likely to use social-engineering in their writing in order to push their agenda.

Can't help but think of.. (1)

PsyMan (2702529) | about 6 months ago | (#46564367)

The great demotivational poster: Bloggers, Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.

The first amendment is a right, not a priviledge (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 6 months ago | (#46564395)

it is not rationed out to journalists who have been ordained by editors and publishers. What we need are good whistle blower protection laws, not shield laws.

30 years of journalism experience in 30 seconds (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 6 months ago | (#46564403)

As someone who made a modest living for 30 years as a "journalist" (or whatever you want to call me), I can summarize the most important thing I learned in 30 seconds:

Every time you attack someone, always call him to get his side.

(Variation 1: Every time you write something that you strongly believe, always call somebody on the other side to find out why they disagree with you.)

That's it. If you follow that rule, you'll always get a decent story.

Re:30 years of journalism experience in 30 seconds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564759)

Sounds like a good rule. Get both sides of the story.

I would add: correct spelling, properly constructed sentences and not using social media as the primary source of information.

Re:30 years of journalism experience in 30 seconds (1)

NotAnIndividual (1755086) | about 6 months ago | (#46565051)

Every time you write something that you strongly believe, always call somebody on the other side to find out why they disagree with you

While both sides of the story are indeed important, too often they are treated equally by the journalist despite one side's point being clearly stronger or more relevant. News organizations today have a tendency to neutralize stories so far that they fail to capture what's important for the reader.

Not every story is balanced, nor should they be.

Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal? - NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564529)

Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal? - Hell NO!
99.9% of bloggers are just ranting or copy/paste'ing someone else stuff.
In short: Bloggers, you all suck!

Believable? (1)

kqc7011 (525426) | about 6 months ago | (#46564589)

Read (watch or listen) to about any article on a subject that you have a working understanding of, done by journalists. Then read a blog by a real "subject matter expert" and which one will be more informative? As the old saying goes, "if you know what they write is incorrect, why believe what they write on other subjects?"

Yes (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 months ago | (#46564777)

Because what passes for "journalism" today is no better than a random blogger. No research done, and basically 100% opinion pieces.

In Terms of Free Speech, Yes; Quality, Maybe Not (1)

akpoff (683177) | about 6 months ago | (#46564879)

The question should focus specifically on quality, not freedom. That is, bloggers, journalists, pamphleteers and tinfoil-hat-wearing-street-corner-ranting loonies have the same freedom to report what they consider to be news. Governments, and especially the courts, should scrupulously avoid anointing any group as "the Press" or claiming one group or another has a more fundamental free speech right. The press are and always have been made up of the people.

Quality, however, is another matter. We might expect employed journalists to produce higher quality articles in terms of polished prose, researched quotes and balanced perspective due to a professional commitment and having full-time employment to focus on the craft. We'd be very much mistaken, though, if we naively assume all journalists are professionals and all bloggers are hacks and dilettantes. If anything, the "blogger years" have shown the commercial press has often sold out and that so-called amateurs have more of a commitment to accuracy and balance than the "professionals". What they sometimes lack in polish they make up for in commitment to telling the truth.

In this regard I see blogging as a good thing.

Under the law..... (1)

fatboy (6851) | about 6 months ago | (#46564989)

In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

Under the law, they should be. They are citizens. There should be no special rights extended to anyone based on their profession.

It depends.... (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 6 months ago | (#46564995)

Are journalists and marketing directors equal? Are journalists and advertisers equal? After all, they all produce digital copy to inform the public. OTOH, if there is something that separates journalists from these other information producing groups, then there is probably something that also separates them from your run of the mill bloggers.

As to what that something may be, I will leave to others to determine.

Well it's rather obvious (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46565097)

In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

Well, I think we have a document on that subject around here somewhere... oh yea, here it is:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Enough said.

In an least one important way, they are equal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46565141)

Ultimately, we the readers are the product that both bloggers and journalists sell to their advertisers so in that respect, they are equal.

In this day and age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46565175)

... bloggers can make up stories just as expertly as can "professional" journalists.

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